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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

My 2008 Summer Reading List

by Ken Newquist / July 6, 2008

Here's my summer reading list, as discussed in Radio Active #69, broken out for easy reference (by me). Got a summer reading list? Don't have one? Wish you had the time for one? Nuketown wants to know: vote in our poll!

Print Novels

  • The Last Colony by John Scalzi - A novel of intergalactic intrigue featuring the main characters from Scalzi's Old Man's War and Ghost Brigades
  • Quicksilver by Neil Stephenson - adventures in science during the Age of Enlightenment
  • The Golden Globe by John Varley - Humans get kicked off Earth by aliens and are forced to live at the edge of the solar system.
  • The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin - A man's dreams can reshape reality.
  • The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman - A young girl explores alternate realities, and tries to evade her world's religious dictators.
  • Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind - A simple woodsman becomes the savior of the world when.
  • The Bloody Crown of Conan by Robert E. Howard - three Conan novellas.
  • Robert E. Howard's Weird Works Volume 2: Moon Of Skull - Tales of the weird (including the namesake tale featuring the Purtian warrior Soloman Kane) by the creator of Conan.

Audio Novels

  • 7th Son by J.C. Hutchins - Seven clones have to hunt down their progenitor, Johnny Alpha who's assasinated the president as prelude to an even more destructive master plan.
  • The Far Side of the World by Patrick O'Brian: British captain Jack Aubrey and his friend, spy and ship's doctor Stephen Maturin sail to the Pacific on the H.M.S. Surprise to intercept and destroy an American frigate preying on British shipping.
  • Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card - The final book of Card's follow-up books to Ender's Game, which tell the story of what happens on Earth after Ender commits xenocide against the alien Buggers.
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I'm curious - why a summer reading list? Does your life change significantly in the summer?

Mine hasn't, really, since I graduated from high school. I suppose the school year impacts us less as parents because we're homeschoolers, but even when Sam's kids lived with us and attended public school, it didn't suck up all our reading time.

As to your choices--I just put Scalzi's series on my own reading list. I adore Neal Stephenson to an embarrassing extent, but got bogged down about halfway through Quicksilver. I guess I was expecting something more like Cryptonomicon?

I read The Golden Globe, but didn't enjoy it nearly as much as Steel Beach. Dark dark dark.

For some reason, I've never read much LeGuin. I have enjoyed some of her poetry, and Katie loved her Catwings books so much that we nearly wore them out years ago. I don't think I've read anything at all by Goodkind.

I got to the second book in the Golden Compass trilogy and stopped. Again, too dark for me. Yes, I'm a wimp. Pullman is a good writer, though.

I just can't focus on audio content well enough to do fiction audiobooks. I used to listen to non-fiction in the car to make commuting more tolerable, but that mostly worked because there are so many redundant anecdotes in such books.

Back in the day (and we're talking middle school/high school/college) it was a function of time of year: summer was when I could read for me, rather than school.

Back before kids, it was when we'd go on vacation, and I knew I'd have a sizeable block of time to read, so the tradition remained.

Now it's evolved into some thing like National Novel Writing Month: if I talk about reading the books, if I set a goal for myself, well, then the books will likely get read. Plus, it casts my mind back to those more laid-back days when I could blow through 15-20 books in a summer. :)

I'll be posting my thoughts on Lathe of Time and Golden Globe later this week, but I agree -- Steel Beach was better (though my issue is more with story pacing than the darkness of the story). Quicksilver stopped me for the same reason it did you: I was expecting Cryptonomicon and I got something else. But I'm willing to give it another try (and it saves me from buying another book...)

I'd always wanted to ask you "why a *Summer* list?" as well and always forgot, Ken, so glad Cynthia did it for me.

My current list:

I'm on a big Robert E Howard kick - currently working through all three volumes of Del Rey's R.E.H. Conan compilations. I'd read all of this stuff as a teen, but damn it's still good!

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane - more Howard. Haven't read any of this. Between recommendations from my friend Jon, and the tie-ins with the Savage Worlds RPG, I'm really interested in checking these out.

What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy - James Paul Gee (started this, but I'm slow at non-fiction)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling

My son Zack also just bought the first of the Halo novels, The Fall of Reach, so I'll probably try that out too - need some SciFi to balance out all this fantasy! :)

And, as audiobooks:
Spook Country - William Gibson
Sundiver - David Brin

Yeah, the Conan stuff is good. I enjoyed the short story collection you mentioned greatly, but I've had a harder time getting into the novellas; I think I just wasn't in a Conan state of mind when I first tried reading the book.

Deathly Hallows was a satisfying end to the Potter series; I think you'll like it.

One of these days I really want to read the Halo books; I've heard good things about them, and they seem like quick, fun reads.

I might pick up Spook Country after I get through this list; I enjoyed Pattern Recognition and it seems this is more of the same (at least in terms of setting).

I read Sundiver ages ago. It's very much a freshman book (I think it was Brin's first published novel) but worth reading if you're into Brin. Have you read Startide Rising?